May 7. There hath been a sad case. A woman and man hath been fined for playing cards. They lived very near the meeting house. The fine was five pounds, but Uncle John says it should be more for so grave a matter.

Hetty Shepard’s Fears about the Future of New England, 1675-77


3 Responses to So Grave a Matter

  1. Chuck says:

    When I was growing up in a Pentecostal househaold, playing cards was still controversial (even non-gambling games such as Hearts, Go Fish, etc). So we usualy played “card games” with non-traditional (?) decks, such as Uno, or games such as Dominos. Perhaps the additional solidity of the Domino made it less sinful?

  2. Jason says:

    Actually, Chuck, I’d prefer to contrast the above with the following (which I think is just a hoot):

    April 2. Mother had writ that Samuel Checkly’s mother was buried in March. There was a fine funeral, but she says she had tasted better funeral meats. The napkins were good but sadly stained by the saffron in the meat. Poor Samuel! I like not this habit of putting saffron in the meat. My fingers were stained all the week after Mistress Adam’s funeral.

    So, maybe dominoes were acceptable b/c the y weren’t stained by saffron? Who knows (I would have thought that dominoes carried an equally weighty association with gambling)…

  3. Chuck says:

    What bizarre reading. Sounds like a lot of fun. I have no idea why dominoes were ok while cards were bad news. Maybe all the colors? But it could be the saffron….

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